One week before we left for vacation, I made the mistake of talking to my mom.
If you live near her and work either in the medical community or for the school district, chances are good that you've sat in one of her in-services. My sisters and I have been told for years that "your mom is SO FUNNY." What was so hilarious about CPR and infection control was always a trifle mystifying, but as a child all I knew about those gatherings was that my mom got up in front of groups of people large and small to talk about washing your hands and how not to be nasty and that it somehow involved washing my own hands while singing Yankee Doodle in front of a video camera on a semi-regular basis. (The purpose of the song is to make sure you're washing your hands long enough to restore your hands back to non-disgusting status.) Kelli, Steph, and I never really understood what "so funny" about our mom until one of Kelli's friends sat in an in-service and reported back to my sister that "your mom has lots of jokes. Unfortunately you're the punchline." Mystery solved.
Being one of her daughters, I get these talks whenever I want (aka whenever she wants), which is how, a week before I was to take multiple rides on those big metal birds in the sky, my mother regaled me with such classic tales as "The Truth About How Often Those Tray Tables Are Actually Cleaned" and "Airplane Ice Cubes Are the Dirty Old Men of Ice" and "Airplane Armrests and Bacteria: A Love Story." She then sweetly told me precisely where I might find little packs of anti-bacterial wipes at Wal-Mart (the travel section, friends), as if she were doing me a favor.
I purchased the wipes. I readied myself for the trip. Derek and I boarded the plane for the first leg of our flight.
For various reasons, I was always in the middle of three seats on each flight, which meant I had to look like I had lost my ever-lovin' mind as I wiped down everything within reach with those wipes as a bemused stranger sat two inches to my right or left watching me perform my little psychotic ritual. If it was a woman, I made sure to tell them that hahahaha, I'm not always this weird, haha, my mom just told me some disturbing things about airplane germs, hahaha, don't mind me as I gingerly lift your arm to scrub at our shared armrest. The one man I sat next to was spared this speech simply because I'm slower to warm up to men.
The lady on that very first flight was also forced to become my airplane best friend, as it turns out that I do not deal with moderate-to-severe turbulence well at all. Every time we'd do one of those little drops that makes it feel like the plane is free-falling for a second or two, my body would involuntarily sit straight up in my seat and my mouth would emit a shaky "HOOO-KAY," while Derek sat to one side of me, ear buds in, calmly watching golf like our children weren't about to become three tiny pathetic orphans.
I tried to keep myself to myself, reading my book and not pestering the poor lady next to me, but I discovered that while reading can distract me from many, many different things, turbulence is not one of them, and I told her so, and basically (in the nicest way possible) demanded she talk to me. She was very kind, and I learned all manner of interesting things about her. Every so often there would be a lull in the conversation, then we'd drop and I'd say, "HOOO-KAY- so, your dad has 8 cracked ribs from a terrible car wreck and you had to miss your family vacation, let's talk more about that."
The one comforting factor in that turbulent flight was the off-duty flight attendant sitting across the aisle from us, sound asleep, who didn't so much as twitch during the whole bumpy ride, but came magically awake as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac. I figured I wouldn't really start to freak out until she did, and she never so much as regained consciousness, so we were good. We saw her again on our last flight back into Des Moines, and while I briefly thought about telling her something along the very creepy lines of Watching you sleep was very comforting, Derek assured me it wasn't the best of ideas.
I think I can safely add "Makes friends easily against their wishes" to my resumé.